2017 Seoul National University-UC Berkeley Korean Studies Graduate Student Conference

Conference/Symposium: Center for Korean Studies | June 20 | 9 a.m.-6 p.m. | Seoul National University, Asia Center Building, Room 230

 Center for Korean Studies (CKS), Seoul National University Institute for Gender Research, The Academy of Korean Studies

Join us for this interdisciplinary conference where UC Berkeley graduate students present their papers that are discussed by Seoul National University faculty members on exciting new scholarship in Korean Studies.

This conference is organized by the UC Berkeley Center for Korean Studies, hosted by the Seoul National University Institute for Gender Research, and made possible with support from The Academy of Korean Studies.


CONFERENCE SCHEDULE

Doors open (9:00)

Welcoming Remarks (9:20-9:30)
Professor CHO Eunsu, Department of Philosophy, Former Director of the Institute for Gender Research, Seoul National University

9:30-10:20
Lettered Worlds: Inscriptive Life in Paekche and Silla
Marjorie Burge, Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures, UC Berkeley
Discussant: Professor Sem VERMEERSCH, Department of Religious Studies, Seoul National University

10:20-11:10
Between Diaspora and Community: Koreans in Merida 멕시코 and the Politics of Belonging
Rachel Lim, Department of Ethnic Studies, UC Berkeley
Discussant: Professor KANG Yoonhee, Department of Anthropology, Seoul National University

11:10-12:00
Household Chores in China & South Korea within the Family
Allegra Midgette, Department of Education, UC Berkeley
Discussant: Professor BAE Eun-Kyung, Interdiscipinary Program in Gender Studies, Seoul National University

Lunch Break (12:00-1:00)

1:00-1:50
Understanding Anti-American Sentiments in South Korea: A Study of South Korean Secondary Students
Grace Jeon, Group in Asian Studies, UC Berkeley
Discussant: Professor KIM Hyung Ryeol, Department of Ethics Education, Seoul National University

1:50-2:40
Global Learning about Korea through K-dramas
Grace Kim, Department of Education, UC Berkeley
Discussant: Professor Olga FEDORENKO, Department of Anthropology, Seoul National University

Coffee Break (2:40-3:00)

3:00-3:50
The Sense of Nonsense in Cold War Korean Fiction
Evelyn Shih, Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures, UC Berkeley
Discussant: Professor CHO Sonjeong, Department of English Language and Literature, Seoul National University

3:50-4:40
A New History of the Cold War through Horror: Piagol and Kanał
Julia Keblinska, Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures, UC Berkeley
Discussant: Professor KANG Woosung, Department of English Language and Literature, Seoul National University

4:40-5:30
In Pursuit of Peaceful Resistance: The Non-Violent Street Protests in 2016-17 in South Korea
Joohyun Park, Department of Sociology, UC Berkeley
Discussant: Professor PARK Keong-Suk, Department of Sociology, Seoul National University

General Discussion and Closing Remarks (5:30-6:00)
Professor Laura Nelson, Chair of the Center for Korean Studies, UC Berkeley



ABSTRACTS

Lettered Worlds: Inscriptive Life in Paekche and Silla
Marjorie Burge, Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures, UC Berkeley

Written material from Korea’s Three Kingdoms – Koguryǒ, Paekche, and Silla – survives in only a limited number of fragments. While Chinese and Japanese histories offer some source material for understanding early written culture on the peninsula, direct evidence of how writing was adapted and utilized is relatively sparse. Surviving stone steles and inscribed artifacts have long offered the most direct route for developing an understanding of the history of writing on the peninsula; however, recent archaeological discoveries of a growing number of wooden tablets (mokkan) now allow for a more nuanced picture of inscriptive life in ancient Korea. In contrast to stone steles, whose material nature and strategic placement ensured they would endure long into the future, wooden tablets were, at least in a basic material sense, a more everyday, disposable medium for inscription. Thus, their discovery allows for unprecedented access to the more mundane types of inscription that occupied the written landscape: receipts, labels, correspondence, and “jottings.” In this paper, I outline several important wooden tablets recovered from both Paekche and Silla sites, focusing in particular on the category of “jottings” in order to trace moments where writing begins to be used in a self-conscious manner that might be understood as creative or original. This investigation focuses on Paekche in the Sabi period (538-660CE), and particularly on writing as it was being used in the Sabi capital, and contrasts this with the situation in sixth and seventh century Silla prior to Silla’s unification of the peninsula in the 660s. I then briefly address to what extent the culture of writing in Silla was transformed by the unification of the peninsula and an integration of the former Paekche written culture into post-unification Silla’s inscriptive landscape.


Between Diaspora and Community: Koreans in Merida 멕시코 and the Politics of Belonging
Rachel Lim, Department of Ethnic Studies, UC Berkeley

This paper, based on preliminary ethnographic and archival research in Mexico, South Korea, and the United States, examines the construction of Korean ethnic identity and community in Mérida, México, among the descendants of Korean laborers who emigrated to the henequén haciendas of Yucatán in 1905. Drawing from scholars of Asian diasporas who have explored the dialectic between homeland and diaspora and the processes of displacement that characterize the dispersion of peoples, this paper moves across the geographical siloes of area studies to focus on the peripheries by highlighting the small but vibrant diasporic community in Mérida. While the transnational relationships that connect migrants’ homeland and country of residence have received sustained scholarly attention, relations among diasporic nodes have not been adequately addressed. In this paper, I utilize the case study of the Asociación Coreana de Yucatán (CORYUC) in Mérida, México in order to explore how the stratification of diaspora affects the construction, imagination, and transformation of ethnic boundaries. Rather than assuming that Koreans in Mérida already constitute a stable transnational “community,” this preliminary ethnographic research examines how a heterogeneous group of actors—Mexicans of Korean descent, Korean American missionaries, and representatives of the South Korean state- sponsored Overseas Korean Foundation—make different claims about authenticity and belonging through group-making practices. By centering Koreans in Mérida, I examine how the ambivalent transpacific connections between Asia and Latin America might produce different subjective experiences and definitions of diaspora.


Household Chores in China & South Korea within the Family
Allegra Midgette, Department of Education, UC Berkeley

Scholars have found that while women across cultures do on average two-thirds of all household labor, only 20-30 percent of women find these gendered distributions unfair. Meanwhile, previous research on moral reasoning about gender inequality demonstrates that men and boys tend to employ mostly conventional, or norm affirming, reasoning and therefore also find women doing most of the housework as legitimate. In other words, across ages and genders, individuals have been found to be less morally critical of gendered unequal distribution of labor in the home than expected. Employing a moral developmental framework, this paper will explore how culture interacts with individuals in a family’s reasoning about their own daily practices of housework distribution and beliefs about gender equality. The paper reviews findings based on observing and analyzing the behavior and moral reasoning of 12 households in China and contemplates how this is expected to differ from households in South Korea based on previous research. This paper will explore the value of comparing two East Asian countries that are among the most economically developed countries that are also facing concerns about gender inequity, while balancing older Confucian traditions with new ones. This paper will demonstrate how individuals’ moral reasoning about their actions and experiences in the family connect to their position in the family, gender, age, and nationality. Ultimately, this paper will demonstrate and explore the interaction between cultural practices and individuals’ moral reasoning about gender inequity in the home.


Understanding Anti-American Sentiments in South Korea: A Study of South Korean Secondary Students
Grace Jeon, Group in Asian Studies, UC Berkeley

From the 1960 student protests against the rigged March 15 election and government corruption, to the recent candlelight vigil demonstrations in the new millennium, student demonstrations and protests have been common throughout South Korean history. At the height of anti-American protests in 2002 and 2003, it was not the older generation that exhibited much resentment towards the United States, but remarkably the younger generation that voiced an unfavorable opinion towards its Western neighbor. This study takes a quantitative approach to the analysis of current anti-American sentiments amongst secondary students in South Korea. Using the same 2002 questionnaire format by Professors Uichol Kim and Young-Shin Park, this paper examines the positive shift in attitudes, as well as the sources for such changes that are concretely affecting anti-American sentiments in South Korea. In using an open-ended questionnaire to examine their perception, the intention of this research paper is to present a resourceful analysis by observing the past and current trends in American perception amongst secondary students in South Korea.


Global Learning about Korea through K-dramas
Grace Kim, Department of Education, UC Berkeley

New media present manifold opportunities for youth to access cultures that may be unavailable to them in their local contexts. Virtual spaces offer youth freedom to engage with geographically distant people and places, but how can practices in such spaces reinscribe cultural differences? This paper is part of a larger study that explored the literacy and language practices of youth who populate a multinational online forum devoted to Korean dramas. The source for data collection was a free website on which people post, watch, and discuss Asian dramas. Qualitative data included writing, visual images, and interactions created by youth within the site’s K-drama forum. Findings included user-generated discussions that involved interpretations of traditional and contemporary Korea. Analyses of these discussions focus on how this forum functioned as a learning space in which youth who live outside of Korea constructed understandings and misunderstandings of Korean culture. Through these analyses, I argue that K-dramas have communicated aspects of Korean society and culture to a global audience in not only positive, but also problematic ways. Implications include ways that online transnational engagements with K-drama in particular, and Hallyu in general, shape current global learning about Korea. Through this illustrative case, I further argue that burgeoning hope for digital and networked media to mediate difference in positive ways requires critical analysis of how practices within such spaces may also reify cultural differences.


The Sense of Nonsense in Cold War Korean Fiction
Evelyn Shih, Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures, UC Berkeley

The Cold War as an ideological struggle produced world systems of language laden with moral meaning. In South Korea, anti-Communist slogans and military language filled public space in the aftermath of the Cold War. This was particularly true in the late 1960s, as Korea normalized relations with Japan under the auspices of Pax Americana and began sending soldiers to Vietnam. Cultural policy became ever more draconian, with increasingly stringent censorship regimes in all media from publishing to film and television. Yet in equal and opposite reaction to these trends rose a culture of nonsense, an alternate system that could illuminate the absurd and horrifying aspects of everyday language. This paper argues that there was a turn to nonsense in literature of the late 1960s, focusing on works by author Yi Ho-chŏl, who was both adept at writing dialogue and sensitive to the potential absurdity of speech.

The nonsense of the 1960s built on a comic mode with a deep history in 20th century Korea. “Nonsense” as a concept in Korean letters can be traced back to the colonial period, when it was first translated and transliterated from Japanese during the Taisho-era craze for “ero-guro-nansensu.” After liberation, this nonsense was often evoked within popular culture, surfacing in cartoons, stage comedy, and film. As cultural censorship under Park Chung-hee became more pronounced, however, socially conscious literary writers found recourse in nonsense as both a satirical mode and as a modernist mode in which they could question the meanings of public language. Moments of nonsense were not just comic relief in otherwise serious contemplations of the social fabric, but the repository for the strongest voice of critique and self-reflexive contemplation. This paper argues for the significance of nonsense, a comic mode, in engaging public affect during the Cold War.


A New History of the Cold War through Horror: Piagol and Kanał
Julia Keblinska, Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures, UC Berkeley

In his chapter in the edited volume Korean War Horror, Mark Morris proposes a new genre of “war-horror” to examine the phenomenology of violence in South Korean war films. Taking my inspiration from Morris, I suggest that the so-called war-horror genre is a powerful interpretive category with which to interrogate Cold War history. I examine how the iconography of horror functions in the 1955 film Piagol, which Morris references briefly in his text, and the 1956 Polish film, Kanał. In choosing films from South Korea and Poland to tell a story about the Cold War, I am also inspired by anthropologist Heonik Kwon’s The Other Cold War and take up his suggestion to critique Western discourses about the Cold War as “long peace” and understand how the conflict played out in the postcolonial non-West (to which, I argue, Poland and Korea both belong and should, though rarely are, be treated in comparative terms).

Although attentive to the films’ discrete historical contexts, the ideological and aesthetic similarities across these two texts are striking. In Piagol, the protagonists are communists, trapped in an anti-communist country, while Kanał, they are anti-communists, left to die in the occupied city by Soviet forces who waited for the Nazis to exterminate the Polish troops before liberating the city. Both films, then, must tread carefully in their characterization of people who are ideological persona non grata and in reality faced deadly persecution in each country throughout the 1950s. Both films rely on tropes of entrapment, body horror, descent into paranoia, and a “final girl.” They both showcase the chiaroscuro aesthetics made possible by black and white film stock, which produce not only a visceral horror phenomenology, but also register the historicity of film technologies in war-ravaged nations. By drawing out the similarities in the films’ formal horror structures and their mapping onto historical ideological conflict, I show that by exposing local histories and representations of “hot” violence the category of war-horror complicates accepted geopolitical narratives of a “cold” global conflict.


In Pursuit of Peaceful Resistance: The Non-Violent Street Protests in 2016-17 in South Korea
Joohyun Park, Department of Sociology, UC Berkeley

The goal of this research is to examine what kinds of protests gain citizens’ attention and sympathy in South Korea. This research argues that only the peaceful struggle under the protection of moral justification and law seem to gain citizens’ attention. South Korea is one of the countries where massive protests emerged during the period of democratization, especially street protests. Street protests have become moderate so far. While the street protests in the 1980s and the 1990s typically involved the use of violence led by the police and well-organized activists, since the early 2000s, street protests have taken different forms, such as candlelight vigil, music concert, and performances, focusing on peaceful methods by voluntary participants. One of the interesting points to focus on is not only how non-violence forms appeared but also how those who are against violence and illegality come forward, especially in the street protests for presidential impeachment. People do not use violence against the police, but they even try to protect the police and clearly express concern for the police. While social protests are traditionally regarded as events/rituals/performances against power in violent forms, why do South Koreans favor peaceful protests? I would like to investigate the peaceful street protests in 2016-17 in terms of popular participation, radical flank effect, and police oppression by conducting participant observation, interviews with the protestors, and textual analysis of the related news articles and tweets. As a tactical development in social movements, the protestors differentiate themselves from traditional activists in the way they pursue democratic and aesthetic aspects of social movements. The peaceful resistances were more effective in spreading their political voice and attracting popular sympathy while avoiding existing regulations and stigmatization.

 cksassist@berkeley.edu, 510-642-5674